High schools across Wake County have a lot to celebrate. According to Wake County Public School System officials, the high school dropout rate has fallen in the 2011-2012 school year. This is the 14th year in a row the school system has seen a decrease. Principals at area high schools said the success can be accredited to preventative measures schools across the county have taken to encourage students to stay in schools.
According to a statement released by the Wake County Public School System, the dropout rate decreased to 2.83 percent in 2011-12 from 3.25 percent in 2010-11 for Wake County high schools. The data was accumulated by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
“DPI reported a decline in the number of WCPSS high school students who dropped out from 1,386 in 2010-11 to 1,236 in 2011-12,” the statement said. At the same time, the total WCPSS high school population increased from 41,407 to 42,143 students.”
Dropout rates for various Wake County Public School System’s subgroups improved as well. African-American students had a rate of 4.58 percent and Hispanic/Latino students had a rate of 4.95 percent, nearly a full percentage point decrease from 2010-11 for each group.
The 2011-12 dropout rate also decreased for WCPSS students with disabilities to 5.39 percent from 6.5 percent in 2010-11 and for Economically Disadvantaged students to 4.69 percent from 5.3 percent in 2010-11.
School officials across the county are pleased with the results.
“I am encouraged by our efforts to keep our students in school and moving toward graduation. We will continue to focus our efforts on pushing that rate lower,” said Interim Superintendent Stephen Gainey. “As a former high school principal, I can tell you there is no prouder moment than watching your students walk across the graduation stage.”
Holly Springs High School Principal Tim Locklair said he is also excited about the results.
“I am excited to see this trend not only in Wake County but across the state of North Carolina,” Locklair said. “We look forward to continuing to work to decrease our number of dropouts.”
Fuquay-Varina High School Principal Edward McFarland said there are several things his school and schools across the county do to help insure students to stay in school. He said one thing they like to do is target freshmen and sophomores and help them realize the importance of a getting a high school diploma.
McFarland said his school and high schools across the county offer several intervention programs. High school students can receive tutoring during lunch and after school. Fuquay-Varina High School also offers freshmen camps, Freshmen Academy and several other programs.
He said high school faculty also travels to the middle schools to talk to rising freshmen about the importance of doing well in school.
McFarland said high school officials believe that if you can target students who may be struggling academically in the earlier years of high school and assist them the student will have a higher success rate for graduating.
Locklair concurs with McFarland and said his school also has intervention programs in place to help struggling students.
“As in all Wake County Public School System schools, our staff works hard to identify students in danger of falling behind their graduation cohorts and those who are in danger of dropping out,” Locklair said. “Our staff works hard to put interventions and strategies in place to help these students get back on track.”
The Wake County Public School System’s dropout rate remains lower than the state average and is lower than rates for most large urban NC school districts, including Durham, Forsyth and Mecklenburg.